A long-term vision for Peterborough

Cllr Nawaz
Cllr Nawaz
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I was appalled by the recent Daily Mail article that put Peterborough at the top of the “Worst Place to Live in Britain” list, writes Cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council.

The methodology behind it looks suspect to me, and furthermore, the article didn’t describe the many positives of our shared home.

We have a lot going for us; I am proud to live here, and proud this is where I’m raising my children.

Nevertheless, the article should serve as a warning; the worst kind of slander is the one that sometimes contains an element of truth. The current Conservative administration has only one apparent reason for continuing: to hold onto power. But what is the point of power if it is not used to good effect?

Being in office too long can blind one to this: I am afraid that is what has happened. They will only move or change out of fear: they do not aspire to higher, greater, or better.

A different administration can help. If our city’s leadership sets its sights higher, then so too should our aspirations and image be similarly uplifted. Over the past months, I’ve articulated a vision to achieve this. I will continue to do so. At this point, I would like to put forth some key points from our recent proposals.

Our long-term plan is to position Peterborough as a Digital City; the Labour Group believes that our future prosperity will require a shift in focus to the digital economy.

To start us on this journey, we intend to help the local economy with a £10m Investment Fund to accelerate the growth of small local businesses. This will be buttressed with an “Invest to Grow” strategy. We will also invest in a “digital innovation centre” to help local digital businesses, and should attract inward investment.

The council should be more digital too: we intend to make Peterborough a leading light in this area, and improve speed of access and efficiency. We’ll also investigate if transport can be made better by creating a digital platform which works on an on-demand basis.

Housing is also key to our plans: we will accelerate the creation of the Housing Revenue Account and leverage the £2.7 billion offered by central government.

This, in turn, will be used to start building 3,000 homes over five years. We’ll provide permanent homes for people in temporary accommodation, and generate income from being in receipt of Housing Benefit. This will net a surplus of £1.9m and we’ll increase the numbers of truly affordable homes in the city and reduce homelessness.

We will also set up a company to build and sell homes which will generate more income for the council.

Everything I’ve just proposed has been costed and thought through.

It is very easy to succumb to cynicism, but we should not. If we raise our game, then our pride and reputation will rise too.

The Labour Group and I will keep working to make sure that this happens.